Thursday, February 27, 2014

Celtics 115 – Hawks 104: Rondo, Bayless lead C’s past Hawks, snap five game losing streak

Boston – It was one of those feel good moments at the TD Garden, when you thought to yourself ‘they are due for one, right?’

After the Celtics had dug themselves into a 15-point hole in the first half, Jerryd Bayless and Rajon Rondo decided it was time to take over and never look back, as the home team beat the Hawks 115-104 last night.

Boston was coming back from a winless west coast road trip, dropping their last five straight. It was time for Brad Stevens to shake up the lineup a bit by inserting Bayless to pair up with Rondo in the backcourt, to start the game.

It was Jerryd’s first start since being traded to the Celtics and Rajon’s first since news broke over an ‘un-excused absence’ from the weekend. It was exactly what this team needed to get over the hump, Wednesday night (no pun intended).

Bayless scored a season-high 29 points, while Rondo added 22 points, the most since he has returned from being injured and handed out 11 assists (his fifth double-double) to help secure the victory for the Celtics who were playing without Jared Sullinger (concussion), Avery Bradley (ankle) and the latest victim Kelly Olynyk (toe).

Six players finished in double figures, while shooting 48-percent from the floor for Boston. Stevens was asked about the possibility of the same starting five for their next game versus the Pacers.

“I haven’t thought about it since the game ended, but it’s a reasonable question for Saturday,” said the Celtics coach. He added that the decision to start Bayless again will depend “on how we feel, what our roster looks like on Saturday, who’s available, all of those things.”

Jeff Teague had 26, DeMarre Carroll scored 24 and Kyle Korver added 17 points including four 3-pointers (his streak stands at 126 consecutive games with a least one made 3-pointer) were among the five that finished in double figures for Atlanta, who have lost 10 of their last 11 games. The Hawks were also without Al Horford and Paul Millsap.

“I think there was a lot of length, a lot of size that we were battling,” said the Hawks coach Mike Budenholtzer. “I think when you look at the shot disparity, they had 90 shots to our 76, and they had 17 more rebounds. We had more turnovers, they had more offensive rebounds and all of that just becomes too much to overcome.”

The Hawks opened the game up to a 23-8 lead before Rondo closed the quarter with 11 points to make it 27-25 after the first 12 minutes. For anyone keeping track, Bayless was scoreless and he ended the first half with just eight points, and the Celtics had taken a 58-56 lead at intermission. They never trailed the rest of the way, as Atlanta played catch up in the third quarter.

Carroll, and Korver knocking down 3’s, along with the Hawks getting to the free throw line kept the game close. Teague’s 10 points in the quarter cut Boston’s lead to two leading into the final frame 81-79. They had a nine point lead with 4:03 remaining in the fourth, and pushed it to 12 with 2:04 left.

In the end Gerald Wallace’s first double-double of the season scoring 12 points, and grabbing 10 rebounds all off the bench, and Jeff Green’s 17 points and eight boards were too much for the visiting Hawks.

Bayless scoring 21 of his 29 in the second half including going 4-for-5 from behind the arc in the third for 12 points was pretty special to say the least, considering he did it in three quarters.

"The shots are going to come and go, some days or not, depending on the day,” said Jerryd. “Tonight they were going well.”

The Celtics will have the next three days off to keep their feet on the ground. They have the NBA’s best record wise, Indiana Pacers coming to town Saturday night. Tip-off will be at 8:00 PM down on Causeway Street!

Game Notes:
Boston really took advantage of their size and athleticism by out-rebounding Atlanta 46-29 (14-6 on the offensive glass). Kelly Olynyk sprained his toe in Utah on Monday, and will be in a walking boot for five to six days. Rondo was asked once again to comment on the unexcused absence incident. He had this to say; “You guys [the media] keep making up every story you guys possibly can. Nobody knows the real story… that’s my business, my choice.”

Joel Pavón

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